Sunday, November 23, 2014

Custodial Parents Moving Away

Custodial Parents Moving Away

After a divorce or a custody battle, it is not uncommon for one of the ex-spouses to choose to move away from the place where the couple made their home.  Whether the reason is to be closer to family or to start a new life, such a move can greatly affect the other person.  This is especially true where one of the parties has custody of a child or children.  Georgia law used to presume that a custodial parent was allowed to relocate, but a 2003 case overruled that presumption.

The Case
 In 2003, the Georgia Supreme Court in Bodne v. Bodne decided that courts will no longer presume that a custodial parent is allowed to relocate.  The Supreme Court stated that instead of presuming the parent is allowed to move, the courts will look at each case individually and will determine what is in the best interest of the child. The Supreme Court essentially decided that regardless of the parents’ custodial situation, the most important thing is the best interest of the child.  Thus, there will be no presumption of authorization.

What Does it Mean for Custodial Parents?
 A custodial parent who tries to relocate must give notice of the move to the non custodial parent.  If that happens, the other parent may file an objection to this request.  In such a case, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side.  In some cases, if one of the parents chooses to relocate, a judge will rework the custody arrangement.  In extreme cases, a judge may even change who has primary custody.  In making this decision, the court will weigh the two competing sides.  First, the judge will consider the relocating parent’s reasons for moving.  Then, the judge will consider the best interests of the child.  The judge will decide whether the move is in the best interest of the child.  If the move is not in the best interest of the child, the judge may decide that the other parent should have primary custody.
 Does the Child Have a Say?
 The Georgia code provides specific instructions for whether a judge should consider the interests of a child.  Section 19-9-3 (a)(5) outlines whether to take the child’s preference into consideration.  The law provides that once a child has reached the age of 14, the child will have a right to choose the parent with which he or she wants to live.  A judge is not necessarily forced to agree with the child as to what the best interests of the child are, however, it very well may be a determining factor in the judge’s decision.  The preference of a child between the ages of 11 and 14 will be taken into consideration, but is less controlling than that of the older child.

What Should You Do?
 If you or someone you know has a child whose custodial parent wants to relocate with the child, or if you or someone you know is a parent who wants to relocate with a child, finding an experienced attorney can make all the difference in your case.  The attorneys at Edwards & Associates may be able to help you in your case.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Does a Paternity Determination Mean?

What Does a Paternity Determination Mean?

Determining paternity means determining the identify of the biological father of a specific child for purposes of the law.  It is a process that decides who fathered the child and should therefore be financially responsible and gain rights to access the child and decisions regarding the child.  However, the legal significance is very important and is often misunderstood.  The emotional and personal significance can also be a huge part of a father’s life and will likely determine a very large part of the child’s future, making the step of establishing paternity a very important one. 

Voluntary or Not?

A potential father might choose to have the paternity of a child determined, or the court may order it, despite resistance.  There are multiple ways to determine paternity.  One way to determine paternity is by marriage.  A child born within the confines of a marriage is assumed to be fathered by the husband.  Similarly, if a child is born and the parents later marry, the child is presumed to be the child of the husband if the couple signs legitimacy papers or the father puts his name on the child’s birth certificate.  Additionally, a court order such as a divorce decree, separation agreement, or other order might specify the father as the parent of the child, establishing paternity.

If the purported child denies paternity, the mother of the child can file a paternity suit.  At that point, the court will likely demand the purported child undergo genetic testing using DNA to determine the paternity.  In the case of a court-required paternity determination, it is important that both parties are aware of their respective rights and obligations, a task a family law attorney can make much easier to handle. 

What does it Mean?

Once paternity has been established, by any of the methods above, there will be legal implications for both the parents and the child.  This may very well mean that the father will then be required to pay child support, money sent to the providing parent to help support the child financially.  In addition, the father may be allowed visitation and or partial custody.  The father may also gain rights to be a part of important decisions regarding the child’s life.  The child can now inherit from and through the father and might also gain immediate financial support.  All of these legal implications will be determined by the court or by agreement of the parties.  Either way, an experienced family law attorney could be key to the process and gaining all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with being declared the parent of a child. 

What does this Mean for You?

If you or someone you know is dealing with paternity issues, the first crucial step is to hire a good family law attorney.  The attorneys at Edwards & Associates are highly experienced on the issue of father’s rights and we may be able to help you with your paternity or father’s rights issues.  Contact us to find out more or visit our website for more information on our practice and how we may be able to help you.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Divorce is increasing, not decreasing, says new study

Divorce is increasing, not decreasing, says new study

A new study sheds some light on the U.S. divorce rate, and what has really been going on over the past few decades. It was thought that the divorce rate was decreasing since the 1970s, but the new study paints a very different picture. According to the new research, "the age-standardized refined divorce rate increased substantially after 1990 and is now at an all-time high."

It's a startling revelation in some ways, but in others it may not mean too much. Divorce is actually a simple "device," if you want to think about it in those terms. It allows people who are married but realize that their marriage is no longer tenable to solve their problem.

That is the crux of the matter: divorce is a solution to a problem, not a problem that is in need of solving. People who are unhappy in their marriages and recognize that it is time to change are going to file for divorce regardless of the divorce rate. There will never be a magical number that the divorce rate needs to hit for people to stop divorcing. That world will never exist.

So in the real world where divorce happens all the time and it shouldn't be considered a problem, it is best for unhappy couples to consult an experienced family law attorney to help them get organized and prepared for their split. In some ways, this is more important for fathers who could be confronted with some complex child custody matters in their divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, "Is the US Divorce Rate Going Up Rather Than Going Down?," Robert Hughes Jr., March 6, 2014


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hiding assets during divorce? Prepare for a tax audit

Hiding assets during divorce? Prepare for a tax audit

Going through the divorce process can be a stressful experience. After all, couples are put in a position to split up nearly every aspect of the years they spent together. For some couples, addressing the financial aspects of divorce can become particularly contentious, since both parties want to maintain a sense of financial security after divorce.

From time to time, one spouse might be inclined to conceal marital assets during divorce in order to avoid splitting them. In addition to the possibility of a contested divorce settlement, this can also open the door to a tax audit conducted by the Internal Revenue Service.

Every year, people indicate their marital status on income tax filings to federal (and Georgia) officials. Because some people choose to hide assets during divorce, this could be viewed as a signal to initiate an audit. Even if both spouses have been transparent about their assets, and don't have to worry about tax violations, an audit is still an intimidating experience.

One other thing to keep in mind: Hidden assets might automatically be reported to the IRS. According to a report from Forbes, judges are legally bound to notify officials about potential inconsistencies in asset reporting found during divorce.

This may be of particular concern in divorces that involve a significant amount of assets. Transferring a large amount of funds, which is likely to happen in a high-asset divorce case, might be of particular interest for investigators looking to find issues in tax filings.

Ultimately, it may be best to work through divorce in an amicable fashion. By aiming toward a fair settlement, both spouses expect a stable post-divorce financial situation. Not only that, but this could prevent a whole host of unwelcome legal issues from springing up.
Source: Forbes, "Divorce Causes Tax Audits," Cameron Keng, Feb. 10, 2014


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Halle Berry ordered to pay $16,000 a month in child support


Remember in 2011 during Halle Berry ‘s interview with Extra, where she spoke about how she and former flame Gabriel Aubry had “happily” resolved their custody issues…well a few years later the narrative got much more heated.
Quick recap: the Oscar winning actress, and the Canadian model met and starting dating in 2005.  Nahla, their daughter was born in 2008 and the couple seemingly amicably split in spring 2010. Although an initial custody agreement was reached in 2011, things went downhill quickly during a physical altercation on Thanksgiving 2012 between Aubry and Berry's  husband, Olivier Martinez when Aubry came to Berry's home to drop off  Nahla.
 
After a lengthy court battle on May 30, 2014,  Los Angeles Superior Court ordered the now mother of two, to pay over $16,000 in child support each month to her ex, Gabriel Aubry, to provide for their now 6-year-old daughter Nahla. Although they both have equal shared custody, Berry’s payments will continue until Nahla graduates high school or reaches her 19th birthday, whichever occurs first.


Berry has also been ordered to pay Aubry’s legal fees equaling $300,000 and $115,000 in retroactive child support.


This often leads to questions:  Why is a woman ordered to pay child support?
Answer: Child support laws are - for the most part -gender neutral.


If they have shared custody, why is she paying child support?
Answer: If there is a vast inequity in incomes, the court can - and often will - order support to balance out the child's homes.  There should not be a vast disparity between the homes.  In addition, celebrity children often need additional expenses that non-celebrity children do not.  One of these expenses might be bodyguards to protect them from the constant crush of paparazzi.  Every case is different.


In Georgia, we do not tend to see these massive support awards, but it is important to remember that equal parenting time does not always equal no child support.


Sources:  People Magazine ; CNN

Key words:

Halle Berry, Gabriel Aubry, Olivier Martinez, custody, child support, celebrity cases

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Divorce and social media: Where should the line be drawn?

At times, a person may feel frustrated or confused by the way things are proceeding during his or her divorce. In this day and age, people might turn to popular social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to vent in the hopes of receiving support from friends. The problem with this, however, is that social media content can come back to haunt someone as they move forward with divorce.
One man quickly found his claim for child custody in jeopardy after he made a comment about his divorce in a Facebook post. After making a generalized statement about losing custody, the man's ex-wife filed a successful motion for contempt of court.

Even though the man in this case didn't specifically call out the mother of his child, his words were used against him. In response to the contempt charges, the family law judge gave the man an opportunity to post a daily, prepared apology on his Facebook page or spend 60 days in jail.
According to the Huffington Post, the man complied with online apologies for a short time, but soon stopped doing so. Fortunately, the man didn't face time behind bars and was eventually granted custody, but his route probably isn't the best for every parent.

The important thing to remember is that people are watching what you say on social media. Even after the man blocked his ex-wife on Facebook, she was still able to get a hold of his post. A seemingly harmless statement made in the heat of the moment can be brought before a judge during a child custody hearing. As such, a parent could lose their claim for custody, even if they are well-suited for parenting.

It's understandable why some parents might be frustrated by the process to obtain custody, but the important thing to remember is that custody decisions will ultimately be based on the best interested of the kids. Knowing this, family courts may use any available evidence to tip the scales in favor of one parent over the other.

Regina I. Edwards

Source: The Huffington Post, "How A Facebook Post Almost Got This Dad Thrown In Jail," Jan. 24, 2014


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movement to balance custody laws gains steam



Many years ago, it was widely accepted (and one could say expected) that when a couple was married, it was the man who went to work and "brought home the bacon" while the woman stayed at home and took care of the kids and the house. This simple (if not demeaning) approach to marriage caused issues when divorce entered the equation. How would the woman financially provide for herself? How would the man be able to take care of their kids?

Obviously times have dramatically changed since then, and gender roles are constantly converging and colliding in today's world. This is a tremendous development, as we strive for gender equality and the overall improvement of people, in general. This still leaves open the possibility of stay-at-home moms (or dads) -- but the expectation is no longer there.

However, what this does mean is that father's rights have become a major topic in the world of family law. Studies increasingly show that children of divorce benefit from seeing both of their parents. Having a relationship with each (instead of sole custody going to one parent) usually helps them. And yet, many courts simply assign custody (in cases where joint custody can't be agreed) to the mother, possibly as a byproduct of the stigmas attached to marriage from those marriages many years ago.
In recent years, some father's rights movements have pushed for child custody equality. This doesn't mean that every child custody case should end with joint custody. Certain divorces have special circumstances where sole custody being granted to one parent makes more sense. But, in general, more joint custody agreements could help both the divorced parents and their child.

Source: NPR, "Push To Change Custody Laws: What's Best For Kids?," Jennifer Ludden, Feb. 26, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Divorce is increasing, not decreasing according to study



A new study sheds some light on the U.S. divorce rate, and what has really been going on over the past few decades. It was thought that the divorce rate was decreasing since the 1970s, but the new study paints a very different picture. According to the new research, "the age-standardized refined divorce rate increased substantially after 1990 and is now at an all-time high."

It's a startling revelation in some ways, but in others it may not mean too much. Divorce is actually a simple "device," if you want to think about it in those terms. It allows people who are married but realize that their marriage is no longer tenable to solve their problem.

That is the crux of the matter: divorce is a solution to a problem, not a problem that is in need of solving. People who are unhappy in their marriages and recognize that it is time to change are going to file for divorce regardless of the divorce rate. There will never be a magical number that the divorce rate needs to hit for people to stop divorcing. That world will never exist.

So in the real world where divorce happens all the time and it shouldn't be considered a problem, it is best for unhappy couples to consult an experienced family law attorney to help them get organized and prepared for their split. In some ways, this is more important for fathers who could be confronted with some complex child custody matters in their divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, "Is the US Divorce Rate Going Up Rather Than Going Down?," Robert Hughes Jr., March 6, 2014